Daily Media Links 8/15: You Have My Permission to Speak … Unless, Obama facing pressure to rip up his lobbyist rules, and more…

August 15, 2016   •  By Alex Baiocco   •  
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In the News

Orange County Register: Sacramento politicians eye illegally avoiding voters

David Keating

Simply put, this legislative effort is a brazen attempt to flout the law and the will of the people who voted to ban subsidies for politicians. How can a bill “further [the] purpose” of the law banning tax-funded campaigns by allowing for tax-financed campaigns? The answer is: It can’t…

Were California legislators to take a timeout from rewriting California law by pretending it does not exist, they might learn a lesson from their neighbors to the east in Arizona. That state has had tax-financed campaigns since 2000. The result? An even more ideologically polarized legislature – because more mainstream candidates often find that candidates from the fringes have more resources than they otherwise would.

Most people think California’s legislature is already too polarized. Spending tax dollars to possibly get more polarization is a risky bet.

SB1107 seeks to “fix” a law that bans tax-funded campaigns by enabling tax-funded campaigns. It’s another power play from the Legislature.

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Independent Groups

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Candidates, super-PACs pushing the boundaries?

Tracie Mauriello

As Senate candidate Katie McGinty pulled ahead of Pennsylvania Republican incumbent Pat Toomey in several recent polls, a right-leaning watchdog group filed a complaint alleging she broke federal election law by using her campaign website to cue super-PACs on what political messages to send.

McGinty aides shot back that Mr. Toomey’s campaign — which they claim is behind the allegation — does the same thing.

The complaint from the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust alleges that “through obscure postings on her website, McGinty is instructing organizations, with which she is not permitted to coordinate, to run advertisements beneficial to her campaign.”

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Los Angeles Times: Republicans are wrong: Churches aren’t being muzzled by the IRS

Editorial Board

The amendment doesn’t prevent priests, rabbis or other members of the clergy from sermonizing about political issues from poverty to climate change to terrorism, nor does it prohibit them from endorsing candidates in their personal capacities. Rather, it says to churches and other nonprofit organizations that if they seek the benefits of tax-exempt status — which can be worth millions of dollars — they must refrain from a subset of political speech…

Nevertheless, many religious leaders — particularly politically conservative evangelicals — have railed against the restrictions as a violation of their 1st Amendment rights. The Republican National Convention that nominated Trump also approved a platform that calls for the repeal of the Johnson Amendment and declares that “the IRS is constitutionally prohibited from policing or censoring speech based on religious convictions or beliefs.”

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Politico: How We Killed the Tea Party

Paul H. Jossey

As we watch the Republican Party tear itself to shreds over Donald Trump, perhaps it’s time to take note of another conservative political phenomenon that the GOP nominee has utterly eclipsed: the Tea Party. The Tea Party movement is pretty much dead now, but it didn’t die a natural death. It was murdered—and it was an inside job. In a half decade, the spontaneous uprising that shook official Washington degenerated into a form of pyramid scheme that transferred tens of millions of dollars from rural, poorer Southerners and Midwesterners to bicoastal political operatives.

What began as an organic, policy-driven grass-roots movement was drained of its vitality and resources by national political action committees that dunned the movement’s true believers endlessly for money to support its candidates and causes.

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Free Speech

U.S. News & World Report: ‘Shut Up’ Politics

Jean Card

The left cheered this week when AARP discontinued its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council – a nonpartisan, free-market-oriented group of state legislators that progressives are almost pathologically obsessed with, and determined to silence or destroy…

Critics of AARP’s membership in ALEC implied that leaving ALEC would be very brave – “take a stand,” they said – a sign of standing up for seniors.

Oh, please. Brave would be staying. Brave would be challenging the ALEC policy positions to which AARP is opposed. Brave would be keeping a seat at the table where legislators and, yes, (gasp!) corporate lobbyists (and people from foundations, associations, academe and think tanks), discuss and debate issues that are impacting AARP’s members.

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Daily Caller: Author: Dem Bullies Are Using Tactics To ‘Scare, Threaten And Harass’ Americans Out Of Free Speech

Ginni Thomas

For years, Strassel has reported on the IRS targeting of President Barack Obama dissidents, the John Doe investigation of 30 groups who supported Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin, the left’s war on the American Legislative Exchange Council, the “Prop. 8” fight for traditional marriage in California and many other examples of individual harassment by the government or activists.

“It all fit together,” she says in this exclusive video interview for The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Her jarring book documents a sweeping effort “to scare, threaten and harass the other side out of speaking.” The tactics include siccing government agencies on opponents, reputational warfare and sometimes walking neighborhoods of mere donors to scare, intimate, or destroy property of those who challenge the liberal orthodoxy.

She says government disclosure laws have been “turned on their head” and are now used as a weapon against participants in democracy, while protecting some select government elites.

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Michigan Capitol Confidential: You Have My Permission to Speak … Unless

Jason Hayes

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and 19 Senate Democrats, lead by Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, are wielding the threat of investigation and prosecution like a club. Their rhetoric shows they intend to silence people and groups that, citing concerns about human health and well-being, have criticized plans to restrict energy choices. Of course Lynch and the senators cover their acts of harassment with slick arguments, mischaracterizing a policy disagreement as fraud.

In mid-July, Whitehouse and 18 other Democrats, including Gary Peters of Michigan, took to the floor of the Senate, attacking the free speech rights of Americans who support the continued use of fossil fuels. These senators claimed their targets were spinning a “web of denial” about climate change.

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Buzzfeed: Twitter CEO Dick Costolo Secretly Censored Abusive Responses To President Obama

Charlie Warzel

According to a former senior Twitter employee, Costolo ordered employees to deploy an algorithm (which was built in-house by feeding it thousands of examples of abuse and harassing tweets) that would filter out abusive language directed at Obama. Another source said the media partnerships team also manually censored tweets, noting that Twitter’s public quality-filtering algorithms were inconsistent. Two sources told BuzzFeed News that this decision was kept from senior company employees for fear they would object to the decision.

According to sources, the decision upset some senior employees inside the company who strictly followed Twitter’s long-standing commitment to unfettered free speech.”…

“This was another example of trying to woo celebs and show that you can have civilized conversations without the hate even if you’re a high-profile person,” the source said. “But it’s another example of a double standard — we’ll protect our celebrities, while the average user is out there subject to all kinds of horrible things.”

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Politico: Obama facing pressure to rip up his lobbyist rules

Sarah Wheaton

The head of the group aiding the presidential transition process is urging President Barack Obama to consider killing his executive order restricting lobbyists from serving in the White House, saying it’s provided limited benefits and could hurt the next administration.

The nudge provides a quandary for Obama.

Nixing the order could be seen as an acknowledgment that he failed to uphold one of the major pledges of his 2008 campaign, or that the change he brought to Washington wasn’t built to last. But punting the issue to his successor, especially if it’s Hillary Clinton, would risk thrusting upon her the bad optics of welcoming lobbyists with open arms.

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Candidates and Campaigns

St. Paul Pioneer Press: MN media mogul Hubbard dislikes Trump, but he’s funding him

Rachel E. Stassen-Berger

Hubbard also supports Trump over Clinton because she wants to do away with the Citizen’s United decision that opened the doors to corporate and union political spending. He says efforts to change the decision are an attack on free speech.

He also adds that there are too many regulations and Clinton “wants to put in more.” And the presidential role of selecting Supreme Court justices “is going to be very, very important and I don’t want Mrs. Clinton making it if I can do anything to help that.”

Hubbard, whose wealth stems from broadcasting, has criticized Trump’s banning of certain media outlets at his events.

“I think that’s ridiculous and I don’t know what the heck he is doing. As I say, it’s outrageous, ridiculous,” Hubbard said.

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Politico: Trump hires the B team

Katie Glueck

Trump’s list of state directors is peppered with a mix of young people who have no presidential campaign experience, as well as Republican operatives who have been out of the spotlight for years. In contrast, Clinton is boosted by Democratic operatives who led marquee races and helped shepherd Barack Obama’s victories in 2008 and 2012…

In part, that disparity results from the refusal of many knowledgeable Republican operatives, including key Romney staffers from Williams to former chief strategist Stuart Stevens, to work for Trump.

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The States

Washington Times: Groups change ad strategies before campaign finance deadline

Matt Volz

Representatives from three organizations say they will either change or cease running issue ads that mention Montana political candidates ahead of a deadline Tuesday that would require them to register as political committees and make financial disclosures to the state.

Tuesday marks 60 days before absentee voting begins for the Nov. 8 elections. A campaign finance reform law passed last year by the Montana Legislature requires an organization to register and make certain financial disclosures if it runs issue ads that name or show the image of candidates within that 60-day window.

Previously, groups could run ads on issues such as education and the environment that mention candidates, but don’t expressly tell their audiences to vote one way or another, without registering with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices’ Office.

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Texas Tribune: Hiding Texas Campaign Spending Details, Legally

Ross Ramsey

If you buy an ad in the newspaper, you have to report it. If you pay a consultant who then buys an ad in the newspaper, you don’t. The proposed rule would require the consultant’s spending to be detailed in the candidate’s campaign finance report.

The state is trying to regulate what some have called the “campaign in a box,” when a candidate reports writing one big check to a consultant, who then handles all of the campaign spending off the books.

This is one of those times when seeing a rule or regulation opens your eyes to a vast range of tricks open to practitioners of the activity being regulated.

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Alex Baiocco

Alex Baiocco